Latest from Mormon Land: Ranking Orrin Hatch among LDS senators; remembering the first ‘sister missionaries’

Also: A Canadian town votes to stay “dry.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune_ Sen. Orrin Hatch, shown in 2018, died last week at age 88. He was the longest serving Republican in U.S. Senate history.

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The best Latter-day Saint senators

Saturday saw the death of one of the most influential Latter-day Saint politicians ever.

Utah’s Orrin Hatch — who served 42 years in the U.S. Senate, longer than any other Republican in history — died at age 88.

The church’s governing First Presidency saluted Hatch, noting he “served with distinction.”

His “tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefited countless lives and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come,” the church leaders stated in a news release. “His service in callings he accepted in the church reflected his commitment to serve his fellowman.”

Historian Benjamin Park explored in a Washington Post piece how Hatch helped cement the vast majority of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. as loyal Republicans.

“Hatch was among a group of far-right Republicans who recognized the potential of a new GOP dominated by culturally conservative members of all faiths — including his fellow [Latter-day Saints],” Park wrote. “... In 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” as the [church’s] official embrace of traditional gender roles and the heterosexual nuclear family. It sounded a lot like typical conservative Republican rhetoric and policy doctrine by that era — a statement on the family that just as easily could have been released by Hatch’s office.”

Hatch’s passing prompted By Common Consent blogger Russell Arben Fox to rank the Latter-day Saint senators who served during the writer’s lifetime.

At the top: the late Harry Reid, D-Nev., ahead of Frank Moss, D-Utah, and Bob Bennett, R-Utah.

At the bottom: Mike Lee, R-Utah; behind Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

And where did Fox put Hatch in his admittedly “personal and biased” pantheon of powerful politicians?

At No. 11, ahead of the late Paula Hawkins, R-Fla., and behind the late Wallace Bennett, R-Utah.

See his full list here.

(Jae C. Hong | AP) Then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is shown in 2006. He died in December 2021.

A toast to a non-toasting town

A recent effort to begin selling booze in Raymond, Alberta, a small Canadian town founded by early Latter-day Saints, came up dry — just like this community has been for 121 years.

In an internet questionnaire, residents voted to stick with the alcohol ban, which has been in place since the community’s 1901 birth.

And Colby Cosh, a columnist for the National Post, embraced this increasingly rare imposition on imbibing.

“Whatever your own beliefs,” Cosh wrote, “you can’t help feeling some small tug of hope that a unique place can stay that way.”

This week’s podcast: Why all the talk about religious liberty?

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency delivers the 2021 Joseph Smith Lecture in the Dome Room of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. He focused on the need for compromise to protect religious freedoms and safeguard LGBTQ rights.

Religious freedom is a common theme for addresses by top church leaders — from Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, to a recent speech by general Primary President Camille Johnson.

On this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, University of Pennsylvania law professor Sarah Barringer Gordon discusses the issue and why church leaders return to it so often.

Listen here.

The first ‘sister missionaries’

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) "Saints, Volume 3" cover. The book tells the story of Inez Knight and Jennie Brimhall, who, in 1898, became the first single women set apart as “sister missionaries."

After the minimum age for female missionaries fell to 19, the church saw an explosion in the number of young women joining the full-time proselytizing force.

Such calls trace their roots to 1898, when Inez Knight and Jennie Brimhall became the first single women set apart as “sister missionaries.”

The story of their preaching in England shows up in the recently released “Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 3, Boldly, Nobly, and Independent 1893-1955.″

“[Inez] and Jennie accompanied [mission leader Joseph] McMurrin and other missionaries to Oldham, a manufacturing town east of Liverpool. In the evening, they formed a circle on a busy street corner, offered a prayer, and sang hymns until a large crowd formed around them,” the book explains. “President McMurrin announced that a special meeting would be held the following day, and he invited everyone to come and hear preaching from ‘real live Mormon women.’”

A new historical novel, “The Sister Preachers” by Gale Sears, also focuses on this trailblazing companionship and how they relied on the “strength of womanhood and their own testimonies to build their confidence and forge a new path in missionary service,” publisher Deseret Book states, while facing “angry, misinformed hecklers and dangerous, violent persecutors.”

“Saints” notes that Knight and Brimhall desired to see more female missionaries.

“We trust that many of the worthy young women in Zion will be permitted to enjoy the same privilege we now have,” they told their mission leaders, “for we feel that they can do much good.”

On that score, mission accomplished.

From The Tribune

• “Under the Banner of Heaven,” the new miniseries starring Andrew Garfield and based on Jon Krakauer’s bestselling look at Mormon fundamentalism, debuts this week on Hulu. Salt Lake Tribune television critic Scott D. Pierce and Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess reviewed the show.

Read Pierce’s review and Riess’ review.

• In a recent court filing, lawyers for the church argue that tithing funds should be kept secret for “religious reasons” that have as much to do with the Bible as the Constitution.

Read the story.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) "The Last Judgment," by John Scott, used to hang in the Washington D.C. Temple. It has been removed.

• A prominent mural is missing from the newly renovated and reopened (to press and public) Washington D.C. Temple.

Read the story.

• The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is getting into the cruise business — but for charity.

Read the story.

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